Maintaining J-1 Status

J-1 Documents

At all times, J-1 exchange visitors are expected to maintain a:

  • Valid DS-2019
  • Valid passport
  • An unexpired I-94 or I-94 marked “D/S”

DS-2019


This form is issued by the U.S. institution at which you will engage in a J-1 program, examined by the U.S. Consulate at the time of visa application, and then examined and returned to you by CBP at the U.S. port of entry. The DS-2019 must remain valid during your stay in the U.S. in J-1 status. If any changes and/or corrections are needed to your DS-2019, please contact your scholar advisor at the OISS. If you lose your DS-2019, contact the OISS immediately.

Passport


All nonimmigrants must have a valid passport to enter and remain in the U.S. In most cases, the passport needs to be good for at least the next six months any time the individual seeks admission into the country. Do not let your (or your dependents’) passport expire while staying in the U.S. or you (or they) could lose eligibility for certain benefits.

Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94)


The arrival/departure record it is the official record of your period of authorized stay in the U.S. Details such as your admission status (e.g., J-1), date of entry and status end date will be stamped directly in your passport. Your admission information will also be recorded electronically by CBP. You should access and print your CBP admission record information online. For exchange visitors in J status, the record should indicate an expiration of “D/S,” meaning “duration of status,” or that your stay in the U.S. is legal as long as you maintain your J-1 status. If your record or that of your dependents has an expiration date rather than “D/S,” immediately tell your OISS scholar advisor. A stay beyond the I-94 end date can have serious consequences for you and/or your dependents. Your electronic record will be updated every time you are admitted into the U.S.

J-1 Visa


Unless you are Canadian, you must have a valid J-1 visa in your passport in order to be allowed to enter the U.S. in J-1 status. This page cannot be issued by the U.S. State Department until you receive your DS-2019. A visa page is an entry permit valid for a specific time frame; it allows the holder to seek admission into the U.S. at a port of entry, but it neither guarantees admission into the country nor determines how long you can legitimately stay in the U.S. Because a visa page is only used when entering the country, it can expire during your stay in the U.S. The expiration of the visa does not affect permission to stay or permission to work in the U.S.

SEVIS Fee Receipt


The receipt is proof to the U.S. Consulate that the SEVIS fee has been paid on your behalf. The SEVIS fee is a fee charged by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to defray the costs of the administration and maintenance of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the system used to monitor and track F-1 students, J-1 Exchange Visitors and their dependents.

This payment cannot be made until you receive your DS-2019. Once you receive your DS-2019, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee by completing an I-901 Fee Remittance form, in English, online. Print the payment confirmation after payment is complete. Please note that if you are already in J-1 status in the U.S. and are transferring your status within SEVIS to Washington University in St. Louis, then this fee has already been paid.

J-1 exchange visitors who have paid their required I‑901 SEVIS fee can access FMJfee.com on their mobile devices. Though you still must have a printed receipt for the payment, you will be able to access FMJfee.com and check the status of the payment. The mobile‑friendly site will provide news and updates regarding the SEVIS fee, as well as answers to SEVIS fee frequently asked questions. To access the mobile-friendly FMJfee.com site, simply enter the URL into your mobile device: www.fmjfee.com.


Address/Phone Number/Email Reporting Requirement

You and your dependents are required to report any changes in your U.S. physical address within 10 days of the change. Additionally, if your primary phone number or email address changes, that must also be reported.

To report a change of address/phone number/email, you will need to use the HRMS Self Service function. Click on the yellow “SIGN IN” button, enter your WUSTL Key and navigate to Employee Self-Service > Personal Information.

  • Your local physical address must be maintained under the Home and Mailing Address option. Always ensure the Home address type has your current, complete local address.
  • Your phone number must be maintained under the Phone Number option. Always ensure you have a campus (work) or a personal cell phone number.
  • Your email address must be maintained under the Email Addresses option. If you do not have a WashU email address, then make sure to have an email address under Home.

Once you update HRMS, the OISS will be notified of the update and will report the change(s) to SEVIS. This will fulfill both your and our obligation to maintain contact information in SEVIS.

An exchange visitor or dependent who fails to submit a change of U.S. address or maintain a current, reported phone number and email address is considered to be in violation of the Exchange Visitor Program regulations.

Future Change of Status

In the future, if you change status to another visa status such as H-1B, you and your dependents will be required to report an initial U.S. address and any address changes to the Department of Homeland Security by submitting the Form AR-11.

Health Insurance Requirement

J-1 Exchange Visitor Program regulations require that J-1 Exchange Visitors (both student and scholar) and their J-2 dependents carry health insurance meeting specific minimum standards (Code of Federal Regulations – 22 CFR 62.14). Failure to maintain required insurance coverage can result in termination of J status. Exchange visitors who are not eligible for WashU benefits must obtain minimum insurance coverage before coming to the United States. Because health care expenses in the United States can be costly, coverage in the amounts listed below may not be sufficient to cover all expenses for medical care, and higher levels of coverage may be considered.


J-1 health insurance must provide the following minimum coverage:


  1. Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
  2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000;
  3. Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000; and
  4. Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.

Insurance policies secured to fulfill the requirements of this section:


  1. May require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions that is reasonable as determined by current industry standards;
  2. May include provisions for co-insurance under the terms of which the exchange visitor may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness; and
  3. Shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which the exchange visitor participates.

Any policy, plan, or contract secured to fill the above requirements must, at a minimum, be:


  1. Underwritten by an insurance corporation having an A.M. Best rating of “A−” or above; a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A−” or above; a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above; a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of “A−” or above; a Moody’s Investor Services rating of “A3” or above; or such other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify; or
  2. Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the exchange visitor’s home country; or
  3. Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor; or
  4. Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Additional Information


WashU Benefits Eligible

J-1 Exchange Visitors who are eligible for and enroll in WashU benefits must select a plan that meets J-1 program requirements. Because WashU health insurance begins on the first day of the month, J-1 scholars who do not begin work on the first of the month must have or obtain short-term coverage meeting J-1 requirements. In addition, WashU does not provide repatriation and medical evacuation coverage for J-2 dependents of benefits-eligible J-1s. Coverage must be purchased separately as appropriate. In addition, WashU employee health plans do not provide repatriation and medical evacuation coverage for benefits-eligible J-1s or their dependents. Supplemental coverage must be purchased separately through a WashU sponsored group plan administered by HTH Worldwide. Contact your hiring department for health insurance enrollment information.

Not Eligible for WashU Benefits

Though you are not eligible for a WashU plan, you still must maintain adequate coverage. Please contact your sponsoring department for enrollment options.


Extensions and Amendments

Extending your J-1 Program


Each J-1 category has a maximum time limit for the J-1 program. J-1 professors’ and research scholars’ J-1 programs have a maximum stay of five years. J-1 short-term scholars’ programs are limited to six months. J-1 student interns’ programs are limited to 12 months.

If you need an extension of your J-1 program in order to continue your J-1 activities (within the maximum time period for your category), it is your responsibility to request an extension before your DS-2019 expiration date.

In order to request an extension, you should complete the extension request paperwork from your sponsoring department, which will work with the OISS to process the extension. In addition to the paperwork, you will need to show the following:

  • Proof of continued health insurance
  • Proof of funding (if not fully funded by WashU)
  • Updated program sponsorship letter

Amending your J-1 Program


If anything will change in your J-1 program, such as your funding, your program objectives, your title, or your department, you should inform your scholar advisor at the OISS of the change before it takes place.

Your advisor will determine if such a change is possible and will issue a new DS-2019 for you if necessary.


Unauthorized Employment

J-1 scholars may not conduct research or teach outside of WashU, unless specifically authorized in advance by the OISS to give a lecture or consult at another institution.

The activity must be short term and must be consistent with your J-1 program objectives. The activity cannot delay completion of your J-1 program at WashU. The OISS will need to update your site of activity in SEVIS before you participate in the activity. The other institution will require documentation from the OISS.

If you are invited to speak or consult at another institution, you should contact your scholar advisor at the OISS before you agree to undertake this activity.

Transfers

If you are currently sponsored by WashU and would like to transfer to another institution, you must contact the OISS before you leave the University and before your DS-2019 end date. You will need to provide the OISS with the name of your new institution, and the phone number, and email address of the advisor who oversees the J-1 program. The OISS will contact your new J-1 program sponsor to arrange the transfer in the Student & Exchange Visitors Information System (SEVIS).

Please note that transfers can only be completed while your DS-2019 is valid. please contact the OISS to initiate a transfer in advance of the end date on your DS-2019.

Study in J-1 Status

If you are a J-1 professor or research scholar, you may enroll in classes so long as:

  • The classes are incidental to your primary activity
  • You continue to pursue the objectives for which you came, as stated on your DS-2019
  • Your program continues to fulfill the objectives of the professor or research scholar category

If enrollment in classes or a degree program becomes your primary objective, J-1 status as a professor or scholar is no longer appropriate and you may be required to apply for a change of status. In rare cases, a J-1 change of category may be appropriate.

The courses offered by WashU’s English Language Programs (ELP) may be of particular interest to international scholars. The program’s curriculum, geared to the advanced language learner, was designed to be practical and challenging, focusing on real-world expectations. Courses are offered both on the Danforth Campus and on the Medical Campus.

30-Day Grace Period

J-1 scholars must depart the U.S. within 30 days of the DS-2019 expiration date or the program end date, whichever is earlier.

During the 30-day grace period, you are not allowed to carry out J-1 activities. Travel and re-entry to the U.S., even from Canada or Mexico, is not allowed during this 30-day grace period.

The 30-day grace period is only for J-1 exchange visitors who have completed their J-1 program, and not for those who have been terminated in SEVIS. If you are uncertain if you qualify for the grace period, please speak to a scholar advisor at the OISS.

12- and 24-Month Bars

Once you have been in J status, you may be subject to two different rules, the 12- and 24-month bars, which affect how soon you are able to participate in a J-1 professor or J-1 research scholar program.

12-Month Bar


If you have been in any J status (including J-2, J-1 student, J-1 alien physician, J-1 scholar, etc.) for more than six months, you are subject to the 12-month bar. According to the 12-month bar, you are barred from the J-1 Professor and Research Scholar categories until you have not been in the U.S. in J status for 12 months.

24-Month Bar


If you have completed a J-1 program as a professor or research scholar, you are subject to the 24-month bar. According to the 24-month bar, you are barred from the J-1 professor and research scholar categories for 24 months after the completion of your last J program.

Two-Year Home Residence Requirement and Waivers

What is the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement?

Many J-1 exchange visitors are subject to a Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement. This rule is located in section 212(e) in the Immigration and Nationality Act, the law that covers topics related to immigration and citizenship, which is why you will hear this rule referred to as the 212(e). Since the J-1 Program is an exchange program, the Department of State requires that some Exchange Visitors return home at the end of their programs for a minimum of two years. This is to encourage and foster an exchange of ideas between the two countries.

If you are subject to 212(e), then you must return to your country of citizenship or your country of last legal permanent residence after your J-1 program is completed. You must remain there for an aggregate of two years. If you do not fulfill your requirement you cannot change status to H, L or Permanent Residence. This requirement remains until you have either fulfilled the rule or you have received a waiver of the requirement.

Who is subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement?

There are four ways to become subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement.

  1. Skills List: The U.S. Department of State created a list of fields and specialized knowledge and then entered into an agreement with other countries about what skills those countries need. This list is known as the Skills List. If you are a resident or citizen of a country that is on the Skills List and your field appears on that list then you will be subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement. See if your country has a Skills List on a website provided by the Department of State.
  2. Home Government Funding: If you received funding from your home government you will be subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement.
  3. U.S. Government Funding: If you received funding from the U.S. government – for instance, if you came to the U.S. with Fulbright or Fogarty funding – then you are also subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement. It is very difficult to obtain a waiver if you have received U.S. government funding.
  4. Foreign Medical Graduates: If you were in the ECFMG program to train as a Foreign Medical Graduate, then you are subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement. It is very difficult to obtain a waiver in this case.

How do I know if I’m subject?

Be extra cautious when trying to determine if you are subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement. When making a visa application, the consular officer often marks on your DS-2019 if you are subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement. It may also be marked on your visa. Oftentimes these markings are incorrect and should not be the only criteria used in determining subjectivity. When in doubt, always request an Advisory Opinion.

How do I get an Advisory Opinion?

An Advisory Opinion is a letter from the Department of State that states if you are subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement. If you receive an Advisory Opinion that says that you are not subject, then there is no need to apply for a waiver. If you obtain an Advisory Opinion that says you are subject, then you should take steps to apply for a waiver if possible. Keep your Advisory Opinion. If it proves that you are not subject, you will need to use this Advisory Opinion for all future changes of status including Permanent Residence.

The OISS does not submit advisory opinion letters for J-1 students or scholars. Advisory Opinion information can be found on a website provided by the Department of State under list item number three.

If you are subject: routes to a waiver

There are several ways to obtain a waiver:

  1. No objection from your home country. For more information go to: No Objection Statement
  2. Hardship to U.S. citizen spouse or U.S. citizen child. For more information contact an immigration attorney.
  3. Persecution in home country. For more information contact an immigration attorney.
  4. Interested U.S. government agency. For more information contact an immigration attorney.
  5. For most ECFMG participants the state waiver program is the only waiver option. For more information contact an immigration attorney.

The OISS strongly recommends that you do not attempt to obtain waivers based on criteria two through five without the assistance of an attorney. Please contact Kathy Steiner-Lang, director of the OISS, if you are going to seek a waiver based on criteria four or five through the sponsorship of WashU.

I’m subject. I can’t get a waiver. What do I do?

If you cannot obtain a waiver and you are subject to the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement, you should return to your country of citizenship or country of legal permanent residence. If you have any questions about what country you must return to in order to fulfill the Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement, you should contact an immigration attorney.